The Los Angeles Lakers were seeking a redemptive victory after a disappointing loss to the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, but dropped their second game in back-to-back nights with a 118-95 loss to the red-hot Houston Rockets.
After a cold 3-of-11 start from the Rockets’ bevy of three-point assassins, the Lakers ended the first quarter with the game tied 27-27. Brandon Ingram continued to be the catalyst for Los Angeles’ offense, scoring eight points to go along with three rebounds, an assist and a steal in the game’s opening twelve minutes.
The Rockets’ shooting slump proved to be nothing more than the calm before the storm, with Houston ending the first half up 61-46 over Los Angeles. Eric Gordon, who started his career in STAPLES Center in 2008 after being drafted by the LA Clippers, erupted for 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting in the first half. James Harden, who had just four points at the end of the first quarter, went into halftime with 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting (including this act of war against Brandon Ingram).
Despite cutting the once 18-point Rockets lead to only a three-point deficit by the midway point of the third, the Lakers were unable to keep hold of momentum and ended the quarter down 85-73. Chris Paul hit back-to-back three-point jump shots to open the fourth quarter, and the Rockets never looked back.
Harden stayed hot throughout the second half, with the former Artesia Pioneer going for 36 points and nine assists. A diamond among the otherwise rough final 12 minutes of play, Kyle Kuzma absolutely posterized Clint Capela with a vicious slam right around the nine-minute mark and ended the game with 22 points and 12 rebounds in just 27 minutes. Brandon Ingram was one of the team’s few other bright spots, finishing with 18 points, nine rebounds, five assists and just one turnover. Lonzo Ball scored just two points on the night, missing all four of his attempts from the field.
The Lakers’ were ultimately victim to their usual pitfalls, dropping to 8-15 on the season behind 20 turnovers and the team’s 73.3 percent free throw shooting. Los Angeles won’t play again until Thursday night, when they head off to the City of Brotherly Love to face Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers.